Essays and Applications

applications

Zach L.

"Great Expectations helped me meet my deadlines, taught me different essay composition techniques, and made the most stressful process a teenager faces much less stressful. In the fall, I will be attending Rhodes College in Memphis (my first choice)!"
2015-02-28T19:40:49+00:00
"Great Expectations helped me meet my deadlines, taught me different essay composition techniques, and made the most stressful process a teenager faces much less stressful. In the fall, I will be attending Rhodes College in Memphis (my first choice)!"

Gina K.

"We will never forget the dedication of my daughter’s counselor who stayed up with her past midnight to help her submit all 12 of her college applications the night before her 18th birthday!"
2015-03-05T23:47:31+00:00
"We will never forget the dedication of my daughter’s counselor who stayed up with her past midnight to help her submit all 12 of her college applications the night before her 18th birthday!"

Dani H.

"First off, let me just say, I could have never gotten through the college process without Great Expectations!  During my college counseling sessions, my tutor helped me brainstorm ideas for my essays, edited my essays significantly, and helped me fill out each and every application.  I referred my friends to GE, and even though they worked with different counselors, they were all SO relieved to have the help.  With their help, I got into the University of Michigan, my dream school!"
2015-02-26T00:47:35+00:00
"First off, let me just say, I could have never gotten through the college process without Great Expectations!  During my college counseling sessions, my tutor helped me brainstorm ideas for my essays, edited my essays significantly, and helped me fill out each and every application.  I referred my friends to GE, and even though they worked with different counselors, they were all SO relieved to have the help.  With their help, I got into the University of Michigan, my dream school!"

Benny D.

"There are so many bizarre ins and outs of applying to college that stump, and subsequently freak out, 98 percent of high school seniors, but my counselor knew how to deal with them: whether it was a Common App glitch, questions that don’t make any sense, or scheduling (and preparing for) interviews, I was well-prepared. I received an acceptance from Stanford University, my top choice, and I am 100 percent positive that without GE, I would not have submitted a strong enough application to get in. Working with GE definitely puts any student in the best possible position when the time rolls around to start thinking about college."
2015-02-26T00:41:34+00:00
"There are so many bizarre ins and outs of applying to college that stump, and subsequently freak out, 98 percent of high school seniors, but my counselor knew how to deal with them: whether it was a Common App glitch, questions that don’t make any sense, or scheduling (and preparing for) interviews, I was well-prepared. I received an acceptance from Stanford University, my top choice, and I am 100 percent positive that without GE, I would not have submitted a strong enough application to get in. Working with GE definitely puts any student in the best possible position when the time rolls around to start thinking about college."

Benny D.

"While my counselor was reducing the stress of applying to college 100-fold and making it a positive process, she also opened up amazing doors for me through all of the help she provided. She had a terrific eye for writing topics that made for interesting applications and was clearly a master at revising writing, always explaining my mistakes and offering suggestions in a way that was blissfully easy to understand. I stayed organized and on top of deadlines with my GE counselor which, considering my usual organizational habits (or lack thereof), was a great feat."
2015-02-26T00:35:52+00:00
"While my counselor was reducing the stress of applying to college 100-fold and making it a positive process, she also opened up amazing doors for me through all of the help she provided. She had a terrific eye for writing topics that made for interesting applications and was clearly a master at revising writing, always explaining my mistakes and offering suggestions in a way that was blissfully easy to understand. I stayed organized and on top of deadlines with my GE counselor which, considering my usual organizational habits (or lack thereof), was a great feat."

Justine L

“My GE counselor guided me through the college application process, first by helping me choose where to apply (she had a GREAT sense of what I was looking for), then by walking me through the logistics of filling out application forms, and most importantly, working with me to write all of my essays. I find that Great Expectations’ method is unique in that it makes the writing process infinitely easier while still granting the student complete creative license. I am now a freshman at the University of Washington and couldn’t be happier!”
2014-05-13T00:08:54+00:00
“My GE counselor guided me through the college application process, first by helping me choose where to apply (she had a GREAT sense of what I was looking for), then by walking me through the logistics of filling out application forms, and most importantly, working with me to write all of my essays. I find that Great Expectations’ method is unique in that it makes the writing process infinitely easier while still granting the student complete creative license. I am now a freshman at the University of Washington and couldn’t be happier!”

Jamie M.

"The college application process felt so smooth with the help of my GE counselor. I was confident in my essays and knew that I was turning in the best applications I could."
2015-02-26T00:40:14+00:00
"The college application process felt so smooth with the help of my GE counselor. I was confident in my essays and knew that I was turning in the best applications I could."

Jennifer E.

"Great Expectations also helped me immensely with the college admissions process, from choosing colleges to apply to that were right for me, to making spreadsheets mapping out when each application is due, to thinking of essay topics, my counselor helped me through it all. Applying to colleges is such a stressful process, so having a counselor personally help me through every step was such a blessing. I now attend the University of Michigan and could not be happier — and I owe a big thanks to GE College Prep for this...I couldn’t have done it without you!"
2015-02-26T00:38:34+00:00
"Great Expectations also helped me immensely with the college admissions process, from choosing colleges to apply to that were right for me, to making spreadsheets mapping out when each application is due, to thinking of essay topics, my counselor helped me through it all. Applying to colleges is such a stressful process, so having a counselor personally help me through every step was such a blessing. I now attend the University of Michigan and could not be happier — and I owe a big thanks to GE College Prep for this...I couldn’t have done it without you!"

Cameron B.

"I'm so thankful I had Jen Kaifesh and Great Expectations to depend on to provide my two sons with good subject test, ACT and SAT tutors and college application essay writing counselors over the past three years. It was very convenient to only have to call one place for all our college prep assistance. When I had a specific question about something in the application process, Jen always offered me quick and useful advice. And, when I had a concern with a tutor one time, Jen jumped right in and immediately addressed the problem herself. Jen and her crew kept our family sane during this stressful process AND both my boys got into great universities. So, in sum, Great Expectations is the perfect size- small enough to offer personal service but big enough to offer a wide array of qualified tutors/counselors. Thank you so much Jen and Great Expectations."
2018-05-04T11:55:26+00:00
"I'm so thankful I had Jen Kaifesh and Great Expectations to depend on to provide my two sons with good subject test, ACT and SAT tutors and college application essay writing counselors over the past three years. It was very convenient to only have to call one place for all our college prep assistance. When I had a specific question about something in the application process, Jen always offered me quick and useful advice. And, when I had a concern with a tutor one time, Jen jumped right in and immediately addressed the problem herself. Jen and her crew kept our family sane during this stressful process AND both my boys got into great universities. So, in sum, Great Expectations is the perfect size- small enough to offer personal service but big enough to offer a wide array of qualified tutors/counselors. Thank you so much Jen and Great Expectations."

Gerry G.

"We are extremely satisfied and grateful Great Expectations customers. We have used its services for several years, including to advise and assist our son with applications to high school and college. Great Expectations provided invaluable assistance with test preparation, essays, the common application, UC applications and other application hurdles. Throughout the otherwise daunting process, founder Jen Kaifesh, Erica Flener and others at Great Expectations have been consistently well-informed, thoughtful, patient and tactful. They helped keep our son organized and energized, and let us maintain family harmony by allowing his parents to step out of the college application process, knowing it was being well-handled. Thanks to Great Expectations our son ultimately had his choice of several excellent colleges!"
2018-05-04T11:50:39+00:00
"We are extremely satisfied and grateful Great Expectations customers. We have used its services for several years, including to advise and assist our son with applications to high school and college. Great Expectations provided invaluable assistance with test preparation, essays, the common application, UC applications and other application hurdles. Throughout the otherwise daunting process, founder Jen Kaifesh, Erica Flener and others at Great Expectations have been consistently well-informed, thoughtful, patient and tactful. They helped keep our son organized and energized, and let us maintain family harmony by allowing his parents to step out of the college application process, knowing it was being well-handled. Thanks to Great Expectations our son ultimately had his choice of several excellent colleges!"

Nancy B.

"Using Jen Kaifesh, the founder of Great Expectations, was the best decision ever! Jen helped my daughter through her college planning process--from deciding where to apply, to the application process, to making her final decision. Jen is the perfect mix of a writing coach/organizer/motivator/enforcer; she truly helped us stay focused during this extremely stressful time. Thanks to Jen, my daughter was admitted to 85% of the universities she applied to, including Princeton, Penn, Northwestern, Notre Dame and UCLA. Jen's guidance was truly priceless!"
2018-05-04T11:57:19+00:00
"Using Jen Kaifesh, the founder of Great Expectations, was the best decision ever! Jen helped my daughter through her college planning process--from deciding where to apply, to the application process, to making her final decision. Jen is the perfect mix of a writing coach/organizer/motivator/enforcer; she truly helped us stay focused during this extremely stressful time. Thanks to Jen, my daughter was admitted to 85% of the universities she applied to, including Princeton, Penn, Northwestern, Notre Dame and UCLA. Jen's guidance was truly priceless!"

Diane M.

"I really appreciate Great Expectations College Prep! Thanks to them, the college application process was greatly simplified. Between helping to narrow down my list of schools, providing helpful feedback on my essays, and even giving advice on choosing the right school for me, GECP made the whole process far less stressful than it could have been. I also appreciated that my college counselor was very flexible with scheduling meetings to fit my busy schedule."
2018-05-04T12:01:29+00:00
"I really appreciate Great Expectations College Prep! Thanks to them, the college application process was greatly simplified. Between helping to narrow down my list of schools, providing helpful feedback on my essays, and even giving advice on choosing the right school for me, GECP made the whole process far less stressful than it could have been. I also appreciated that my college counselor was very flexible with scheduling meetings to fit my busy schedule."

Hannah W.

"Wow! What an amazing company. My college application process could not have been more efficiently organized, thanks to the help from Great Expectations College Prep. I began in the beginning of summer and my applications were ready to submit way before they were due. I believe the fine tuning of my essays helped me get into my top schools, USC and Berkeley."
2018-05-04T12:54:39+00:00
"Wow! What an amazing company. My college application process could not have been more efficiently organized, thanks to the help from Great Expectations College Prep. I began in the beginning of summer and my applications were ready to submit way before they were due. I believe the fine tuning of my essays helped me get into my top schools, USC and Berkeley."

Joyce O.

"The last time I looked at a college application, it was 1974. Apparently things have changed a little. In the beginning I tried to help my son with the application process. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was "not qualified." Really made me angry and we had it out. I hired Great Expectations just to get him going, but my "expectation" was that we wouldn't really need them. Very long story short, I couldn't have been more wrong and my son was right. (For god's sake, don't tell him I said that.) I never would have been able to help my child the way this company did. They are lovely, smart, energetic, well informed and caring people who understand subtleties about this process that never would have occurred to me."
2018-05-04T12:56:30+00:00
"The last time I looked at a college application, it was 1974. Apparently things have changed a little. In the beginning I tried to help my son with the application process. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was "not qualified." Really made me angry and we had it out. I hired Great Expectations just to get him going, but my "expectation" was that we wouldn't really need them. Very long story short, I couldn't have been more wrong and my son was right. (For god's sake, don't tell him I said that.) I never would have been able to help my child the way this company did. They are lovely, smart, energetic, well informed and caring people who understand subtleties about this process that never would have occurred to me."

Lisa G.

"Best investment ever for my son! He wanted to go to a 4 year college and at risk of not getting in! Jennifer tutored him to achieve a great score on ACT and that helped him get into the college of his choice. She did all the work with him on the application process and helped us pick the most appropriate schools to apply. Today we are on a college tour of his first pick and thrilled he was accepted! We owe it all to Jennifer at Great Expectations. Thank you Jennifer. We are truly grateful and owe this accomplishment to you!"
2018-05-04T13:00:11+00:00
"Best investment ever for my son! He wanted to go to a 4 year college and at risk of not getting in! Jennifer tutored him to achieve a great score on ACT and that helped him get into the college of his choice. She did all the work with him on the application process and helped us pick the most appropriate schools to apply. Today we are on a college tour of his first pick and thrilled he was accepted! We owe it all to Jennifer at Great Expectations. Thank you Jennifer. We are truly grateful and owe this accomplishment to you!"

Dallas M.

"I used the services of Great Expectations for over two years and am so grateful for every session. My tutor helped me with everything from testing to the application process. My test scores improved dramatically in each section because GE helped me understand the nuances of the tests and how to attack each section in the way that best fit to my skills. In addition, the college application process felt so smooth with the help of my GE tutor. I was confident in my essays and knew that I was turning in the best applications I could. Overall, I would highly recommend the tutors at Great Expectations - not only do they teach you everything you need to know about the SAT, ACT, or college applications, but they develop a relationship with you filled with trust, kindness, and teamwork."
2018-05-04T13:02:05+00:00
"I used the services of Great Expectations for over two years and am so grateful for every session. My tutor helped me with everything from testing to the application process. My test scores improved dramatically in each section because GE helped me understand the nuances of the tests and how to attack each section in the way that best fit to my skills. In addition, the college application process felt so smooth with the help of my GE tutor. I was confident in my essays and knew that I was turning in the best applications I could. Overall, I would highly recommend the tutors at Great Expectations - not only do they teach you everything you need to know about the SAT, ACT, or college applications, but they develop a relationship with you filled with trust, kindness, and teamwork."

Hannah L.

"I had Jen Kaifesh as my college counselor, and it truly was the best decision I have ever made! Jen helped me from beginning to end. She helped me form my list of colleges, edit the applications, and connected me with great tutors for the ACT and subject tests. Jen's spirit and passion for helping students is unparalleled. She provided support and motivation and she really truly cares about the students that she works with. Thanks to her, I got the ACT score that I wanted and am going to be attending my dream school next year. It was an incredible investment, and I would not be where I am if it wasn't for her!!!"
2018-05-04T16:59:10+00:00
"I had Jen Kaifesh as my college counselor, and it truly was the best decision I have ever made! Jen helped me from beginning to end. She helped me form my list of colleges, edit the applications, and connected me with great tutors for the ACT and subject tests. Jen's spirit and passion for helping students is unparalleled. She provided support and motivation and she really truly cares about the students that she works with. Thanks to her, I got the ACT score that I wanted and am going to be attending my dream school next year. It was an incredible investment, and I would not be where I am if it wasn't for her!!!"

Nadine C.

"I can't imagine going through the college application process without Great Expectations! The first session my tutor and I sat down and created a spreadsheet that detailed every test score, essay topic, deadline, and other requirements for each school. That spreadsheet was my lifeline for the next few months, and needless to say, I never missed a single deadline. My high school college counselors encouraged me to only keep my sights on "target schools," namely schools where I was well within the range of test scores and grades. Great Expectations, on the other hand, encouraged me to reach past those target schools, and as a result, I was accepted to almost every school I applied to -- even if I wasn't quite in their "range."
2018-05-04T17:02:42+00:00
"I can't imagine going through the college application process without Great Expectations! The first session my tutor and I sat down and created a spreadsheet that detailed every test score, essay topic, deadline, and other requirements for each school. That spreadsheet was my lifeline for the next few months, and needless to say, I never missed a single deadline. My high school college counselors encouraged me to only keep my sights on "target schools," namely schools where I was well within the range of test scores and grades. Great Expectations, on the other hand, encouraged me to reach past those target schools, and as a result, I was accepted to almost every school I applied to -- even if I wasn't quite in their "range."

Application essays offer the best opportunity to humanize yourself to the admissions officers, so take advantage of them. They already know your statistics and they’ve seen your list of extracurricular activities, so the essay is not a chance to brag about something you’ve done or accomplished; it is a chance to give colleges a glimpse of who you really are — not as a student, but as a person.

essaysRule of thumb: If anyone else has done it or thought it, don’t write it.  You may have helped build schools in third world countries, helped a younger sibling cope with the death of a grandparent, or overcome a debilitating sports injury, but how many similar essays do you think the admissions officers have read?  Write about something that is entirely, completely, and uniquely you.

As for the application…are you aware that the Common App often mis-categorizes required supplemental essay prompts — and if so, do you know where to look to find the correct one? Did you list your extracurricular activities in the most strategic order? Did you ask the best teachers to write your letters of recommendation? Did you submit every supplement? There are countless lines to fill in and questions to answer, which are nearly impossible for keep straight if you don’t know what you’re looking for. You also want to be sure that you have a solid understanding of Early Decision’s pros and cons, as well as when Early Action is a better (or worse) option than Regular Decision.

We will help you with every step, from coming up with the perfect essay topics to catching that last punctuation error on your list of extracurriculars. Our job is to ensure that your application not only stands out from the rest in the pile, but also that there are no oversights that could negatively impact your chances — nor any missed opportunities to positively impact them.

Explore our various College Planning packages and Founder’s Circle packages to determine which is best for you!


FAQs

I have no idea what to write my essays about. There’s nothing unique about me.

There is something unique about everyone! Our College Counselors will help you unlock your powerful story and help you showcase your talents and special qualities to admissions officers. You don’t have to cure cancer to catch a college’s attention…you need to know who you are, who you want to be, and show a commitment to becoming the best version of yourself.

I’m a good writer. Why do I need help with my application essays?

Ask any professional writer out there if he or she has published a work without an additional pair of eyes — or ten! A good writer knows that a great piece of writing comes from honing and editing initial drafts with a fresh perspective, which is nearly impossible to achieve on your own when you’re writing autobiographically.

Additionally, just because you’re a good writer doesn’t mean that you necessarily know what college admissions officers are looking for. A personal statement should be an unusual combination of short story and academic essay — a hybrid most students have little experience with. We are also familiar with what topics are overdone and cliched, as well as which ones should never be written in the first place.

Our College Counselors are trained to make students’ essays the most polished, honest, unique, and interesting essays that each student is capable of. We work to identify exactly what the student is trying to say and then ensure that the essay conveys that message. An outstanding essay is concise, specific, thoughtful, compelling, and unique — and that’s not even considering grammar and structure! Writers of all backgrounds will receive expert guidance and feedback, and find their essays improved without sacrificing their voice or intent.

I’m a senior and it’s Thanksgiving. Is it too late to start?

No. Our college counselors are trained to work with students at any stage of the application process, including on a deadline. However, the later you start, the less extensive aid we’ll be able to provide, so it’s to everyone’s benefit to get started earlier if possible.

How many schools should I apply to?

The answer to this question is a little different for each student, but we generally recommend using the 1-2-1 approach — in other words, applying to roughly 1 safety, 2 targets, and 1 reach for every 4 schools you apply to.

We can help you identify which schools fit into these categories, given your specific experiences and academic credentials, and we can help make sure that you are applying to enough schools that you will have a variety of choices, but not so many that you will have to sacrifice the quality of your work on the applications that you should be prioritizing. In our experience, 8-12 schools in total is ideal, as it gives you quite a few options but still allows you to put a lot of effort into each application. There are, of course, students who apply to far more or far fewer schools than that — it’s entirely up to you to determine how much time and energy you’re willing to put into the process.

My high school already has a college counselor, an essay bootcamp, and/or other college informational activities. Won’t I get most of my questions answered at school?

Your school counselor and school activities are a great place to start, but you have to share your counselor’s time, or share the floor at college information nights, with dozens (if not hundreds) of other students. We have much more time to focus on YOU! We can be as involved as you’d like — reading every essay, reviewing every application, confirming colleges’ receipt of every official document you’ve sent, etc.

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